We live in a small house which offers an equally small amount of storage space. Upon moving in over 8 years ago we decided we’d much rather have living space than storage space, so most of the areas (like the basement) that could be storage have slowly been redone to be a sewing room, a playroom, and a bathroom. There is still an epic battle being played out in the southwest corner of the basement between workroom and storage area and it is unclear which will win out in the end. Anyway, our mantra has always been ‘if we own it, we should be using it, and often’. But where does this leave Christmas decorations, lovely, beautiful things that are used but a mere 1/12th of the year? The answer, my friends, is paper. Christmas cards in particular. Christmas cards are full of memories, are nice to look at, and, come January, pack away flat into a manilla envelope, taking up next to no space. How do I love old Christmas cards? Let me count the ways.
1. I use them as is. I have saved all the cards from my sister over the years and I string them along a ribbon during the holiday season. The images are cute, but the messages from my sister inside are hilarious, so putting them up each year makes me laugh. And, yes, this makes me look like I have a zillion friends because they are up the moment Thanksgiving is over and when people walk in my house they exclaim “you have that many cards already?”. Yes, a zillion, very punctual friends.
2. In the same vein, I have a display of Norwegian postcards also strung up on ribbon. My friend Meribeth started this tradition several years back when she gave me my very first postcard. Since then I have been collecting them. They are so pretty and sweet that I should frame them, but that would defeat the purpose of flat packing them away come January.
3. I take the best parts of the cards and add to our Christmas tree garland. Using a big circle punch, I cut out the part of a card I want to showcase and then put two circles back to back over a string and squish them together with glue. Each year I can add to the garland and when I put it up the next year I get to think about the people who sent those cards. I really like to cut out the parts of the cards that have handwriting, because I think handwriting is beautiful, and even more so if it is from someone you love.
4. I use them as tags in our Advent activities calendar. I cut out little tags from old cards, punch a hole in them, and string some ribbon on. On the backs I write activities for each day. Some activities go over like lead balloons, others are great fun. Lead balloon: Christmas card photo shoot!! Great fun: Candy Cane Hunt! Lead balloon: Make Christmas Cookies!! Great fun: Snowball fight with balled up socks. Yeah. I totally stole that last idea from Robin. She rocks.
5. I put the absolute best parts into a scrapbook. I used to save each and every card I got, but this began to take up a ton of room. So now I force myself to select the best part of each card, cut it into a 2-inch square, and make a collage with them. I got this idea from the brilliant Ali Edwards. It is just as fun and memory provoking as a box full of cards, but takes up a fraction of the space.